Danielle Davidson is currently studying abroad in Seoul, South Korea. This is her first hand experience with living abroad.
Confucian principles have been passed down through the generations here in Korea and respect for elders is one of the things that stands out.
Ahjummas(elderly women) and ahjusshis (elderly men) roam around doing as they please, and no one dares to stand in their way, because of their deep rooted respect.
The other day I watched as a couple of ahjummas duck under the turnstiles at the subway station (many of them are tiny and can do this sort of thing), and no one said a thing, because, well, Confucianism. It was actually a bit funny watching their small frames, with their giant backpacks, duck under the gates and run down the stairs like little bulldozers.
Some of the bags these women carry and the carts they pull are hardly easy burdens. I mean it when I say you don’t want to get in the way of these tough ladies. They push, shove and sometimes shout to create a path for themselves. But it isn’t only the ahjummas who do this sort of thing, because the ahjusshis push their way around too, and getting in the way of a serious-looking older gentleman who looks like he might smack me with a cane isn’t something I want to be doing. Okay, they probably aren’t going to smack me (I haven’t seen this happen) but the elders are seasoned veterans of life and aren’t afraid of the younger generations.
Another sight I saw was a large, two-wheeled, old-fashioned cart loaded with piles of assorted items being pulled by a lone ahjusshi. This hardy man reminded me life doesn’t always have the conveniences we have in today’s age, and how it wasn’t too long ago Korea was only on the verge of modernization and nowhere near as powerful as it is today.
The ahjummas with their permed hair, and the ahjusshis with their stern countenances may look like they belong in a different time, but they seem to get by just fine as they navigate the modern city of Seoul, going wherever and doing whatever they please.